Updates!! Love the Updates!!

Hello people! So, it’s been a while… not that that’s news. I promise, I do have a plan for staying on top of blogging in the future, but I’ll get to it in a little bit. Since it’s been so long, and I now feel comfortable in my new(ish) role, it’s time to get it all out there.

Sometime during Dylan’s 7th grade year, probably close to the beginning if I’m honest, I felt like some changes needed to be made. I’d been toying with the idea of homeschooling the kiddos after Eowyn was born in 2011, but I knew I wasn’t ready to do it then. I tried to talk to people about it, but I barely knew anyone who did it at the time, and they really couldn’t give me too much insight because they hadn’t been doing it very long. So, I just put it on the back burner. Fast forward to when we moved across the bay, to another county…

Prior to that move, Dylan was in a fantastic school. It was the best school in our county and was super tight on schedule and structure and college prep level stuff. Aside from one class that he was having a few issues in, Dylan really did well there. (Come to find out that he tends to have issues with that subject in general, but that will be addressed later.) Well, we had to leave that school in the middle of the year to move, and he finished out the year at a brand new school. There’s nothing really wrong with the new school at all, but it did seem like it took longer for him to find a niche there.

When he started 7th grade, I was hoping that things would finally level out and he’d make a few friends (not a lot though, introversion can definitely be found in our house). The year started okay. Then a few weeks in, I get notified that they want to put him in advanced geography/civics. That’s all well and good. I had no problem with that. Dylan had a problem with that. Not so much with the class itself, but more that they had to change his schedule around and that made it harder for him to get to one of his classes because he had to change PE times. And, of course, every single suggestion I had for trying to make it easier on him to get where he needed to go was shot down literally a day later in a mass school email saying why this particular thing wouldn’t work. It got to be such a headache.

Dylan got a few tardy slips to this one class because of the schedule change and no one would take the time to understand. Dylan is the kind of kid who doesn’t really speak up about things. I don’t know whether it is his natural introverted tendencies, or whether he just feels like he shouldn’t say anything. I really don’t know. What I DO know, is that every time I tried to contact this teacher, she literally had short, snipped responses and would only tell me to make an appointment. Now, I totally understand that she’s busy. My parents were teachers, my aunt was a teacher… I’ve spent a good portion of my life in a school and around teachers. However, I also know that I am busy. At the time, I had a baby who was still EXCLUSIVELY breastfeeding (a huge WIN for me) and I was in no mood to be going up there with a 6 year old, a 3 year old, and a baby, to have a discussion about things. I made this very clear to every teacher that I contacted. Just about all of them were totally okay and understood this, and were willing to answer any questions I had via email. All except this teacher. By this point, the year was almost over, so I just decided to have him stick it out.

The pull to homeschool was VERY real by then. I just felt like no one really understood the way he worked, and he isn’t very forthcoming with stuff, so I just saw that he was getting lost in the system. Like, I could tell that he was kind of getting a “label” attached to him that he was a loner and a bit of a trouble maker and that really is not him at all. I find it hard to explain how he works because it’s hard to explain how I work. Dylan and I are very similar in how our brains process things. Yes, he has ADHD as well, and I know I have some tendencies of it, so that can complicate things. And, if you don’t truly know what it’s like to have ADHD, then you can’t even begin to understand how to relate to kids/adults who have it. We can go through all the cutesy buzzfeed articles we want, but it will never fully explain what it’s like. Getting off track here (I did say I had some tendencies)…

All the while this was going on, Bella was enjoying her first year of Kindergarten. All-in-all, her school was okay. I did have some problems like them not telling me that she had been placed in a reading intervention class. Seriously. I freaking have a problem with that. She’s in KINDERGARTEN. She doesn’t have to know how to read everything yet. And then the homework… I mean, really? Who gives homework to kindergarten students? Do they really need that stress? Do the parents really need that stress? I digress… Overall, she was fine. She’s bright and very intent on being a good student.

So, as the homeschool bug was hitting me hard, I was having a hard time trying to explain why I wanted to do it. I knew it would cost some money. You CAN do it for free, but if you do, it’s almost entirely computer based (aside from field trips or hands on learning). Part of my pull to homeschool was to get electronics OUT of my kids’ hands. Too much technology too early is a problem to me. Dylan is the only one of our kids who has a personal device. We have two old iphones that we only have a few educational apps on that we let the girls play with every now and again. In Kindergarten, Bella was using an iPad almost every day, and Dylan had his own computer from school that he had to do everything on. I don’t think I ever saw him with an actual book, which is a total travesty, in my opinion.

Back to my reasons… I was trying to say that I wanted to homeschool Dylan because I felt like he needed more structure and that we could do better at developing his study skills and stuff. While all that is definitely true, that was only part of the reason (and not even the main part). Bella was just going to be homeschooled because Dylan was. I didn’t really have a reason to homeschool her, other than that it would be easier on all of us if they both did it. That way, I wouldn’t have to worry with drop offs and pick ups.

In all honesty, the only reason I really chose (and still choose) to homeschool my kids is the fact that I believe it is what God wants me to do. I feel led by Him to do this right now. Does it mean that I will homeschool them all the way through high school? I don’t know. What I do know, is that I am going to listen to what He is telling me to do, because He is the one who has all of our best interests in mind. I believe that obeying God is more important that listening to what anyone else has to say about it all. I still like to ask for opinions and stuff, but ultimately, because this is a God-calling for me, I’m going to do it.

Was homeschooling a success this year? Education-wise, sure! Bella will be completely done with her 1st grade work on Friday, she knows how to write in cursive, her reading is on track with her age/grade level, and her understanding of math concepts is definitely going well. Dylan is completing Algebra I, and he’s almost done with his History, Science, and Language Arts. Were we on a schedule? Ha! Definitely not.

If I have learned one thing, and only one thing, from this year – it is that homeschooling looks and works differently for EVERY family. What works for you, might not work for me. There are thousands of ways to homeschool your kids. A school day does not have to start at 8 am. You can bellyache all day long about how “real life starts at 8” because of jobs and stuff, but in all honesty, even if your homeschool doesn’t have an ironed-out routine like that, your children will still learn discipline and how to manage time. It doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s school day. Also, the biggest issue that I hear people talk about is socialization. Well, do you send your kids to school to socialize? I’ll bet not. You send your kid to school so he can get an education, right? They get in trouble for socializing at school. Also, you know the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child?” Well, I’ve seen the village, and I don’t want it raising my kids. You can say all you want, but I’ve seen the way this society “educates” and I am vehemently against most of it.

I am educating my children, and probably doing a better job than some of the teachers they’ve had over the years. I have nothing against public schools and teachers because Lord KNOWS they need all the help they can get. And, if that is what works for your family, then by God, you do it. But, those teachers don’t know my children the way I know my children. They don’t know how to reach them in the best way. Many teachers don’t get the leeway to break up their methods to suit children who learn differently, but I can do that because they are MY kids.

Do you want to know what is most important to me in this whole thing? The most important part of this homeschool journey is developing relationships with my kids and having them develop better relationships with each other. They can’t do that in school. I can’t tell you how much of a difference I’ve seen in my kids. Prior to homeschooling, Dylan would hardly ever talk to his sisters without snapping at them. He never wanted to answer any of their questions on the way home and it was pulling teeth to get him to even try to play or spend time with them. I noticed Bella being that way a little bit while she was in school as well. She was just so tired at the end of the day that she tended to be short and snappy with Eowyn. I was really having a hard time with trying to fix it.

To me, your family  relationships should be the most important relationships you have (aside from your relationship with God). Your family is all you have. You don’t have to be best friends all the time, but you need to be able to talk to each other without thinking the other one wants something, and you should be there for your family without a moment’s hesitation. That’s something I learned from my parents that I desperately want my children to learn. My parents will drop anything and be there if I need them. Seriously, no questions asked. If it is a need, they will do what they can to meet it. To me, they are the epitome of selflessness, and that is EXACTLY how I want to model and teach my children. So, the harsh relationships were really working on my heart in a bad way.

This year, there has been a MARKED difference in my children. Since they aren’t having to get up early and they weren’t being made to “sit still” for numerous hours at a time, they really were a lot more inclined to do their work without complaining. They actually TALK to each other without being ugly. Of course, they still get into sibling squabbles, but that’s just normal stuff. Aside from that, they really and truly get along much better and are more responsive to each other than they’ve ever been. Dylan will play with the girls, and he’s even being more social at church. What?? Did I say he was being SOCIAL?! Oh my heavens… Now, he’s not ever going to be a social butterfly, but that is totally and completely overrated anyway. But he is learning how to converse with real grown-ups about real things in a much better and safer way than if he were in school.

To me, the improvement in the family relationship is worth absolutely EVERYTHING. My kids may complain sometimes about the actual school work (because, well, duh, it’s school work), but I think they really liked not having to get up super early and still be able to be done with their work before the neighbors got home from school. As for me, I LOVED doing it, and I certainly look forward to doing it again. I really value the time that I’m spending with my kiddos. This next year, we get to include Eowyn some more, so she’ll be doing official school work with us.

I’ve hesitated so much about sharing this journey because I guess part of me was still afraid of what people would think. Some people might not think that I (with my college degree, perfect English ACT score, Junior and Senior Beta Club memberships, Valedictorian medal, and Phi Theta Kappa membership) am qualified to teach my children because I don’t have a “teaching certificate” or “education degree.” Well, they can think that all they want. I do not think that homeschooling is better than public schools. I think it’s better for MY kids right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s better by default. I was not homeschooled. I wasn’t public schooled either, but I did actually go to a school building and sit in classes from 8-3 every day, so the general idea was the same. Part of me is ready to defend my decision, even in a snarky way sometimes, and I’ve learned that I really shouldn’t be that way. There’s been a lot of growth all around on this journey.

The most current update for now is the news that I have launched my own Rodan+Fields biz! I’ve been using the products for over 7 months now, and I am in LOVE with my skin again. I have been thinking of taking the plunge for a little while now and just finally did it a couple of days ago. I really love this skincare line and I think it’s worth every penny and that it needs to be out there, so I’m officially an Independent Consultant for R+F.

I do still sell AdvoCare as well. I haven’t stopped that one. They don’t sell the same things, and I still love their products as well, so now I just sell both! Yay! Anyway, I’d love to tell anyone more about them, so if you are curious, please shoot me an email or message on Facebook.

That’s the end of the updates for now… If I have more, I’ll get on that. Oh, I did mention that I am planning a better way of keeping up with the blogging. Well, this next year of homeschooling, I will be formulating a daily plan with schooling/chores/etc on it. We didn’t have any structure this year, and while we still got all the work done, I could tell that we needed a more firm routine. With 4 kids, it’s easy to get off track, so we will definitely be incorporating a more set daily routine, and part of it will include blogging for me, so I’ll be able to keep this up to date in a more efficient manner.



Church Music

Church music…

This is a topic that can get lots of undies in a wad. It’s supremely important that this topic be addressed because so many churches use music. I’ve had this on my mind a LOT lately, so if you care to indulge me, I’ll spill my guts about it.

Music is a gift. I live and breathe it. I could probably tell you more about my feelings through songs than I could just sitting and talking to you. Music is a tool. You get to choose how you use it and how it will affect you. Music can be something that brings people together. So, why then, does the type of music used in your church seem to be something that tears the congregation apart?

The answer is, quite simply, change. That is really all it boils down to be. There are too many people who are unwilling to change their viewpoints on what kind of music “should” be played in their churches.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist church. I’ve been involved in Southern Baptist ministry and music for a very long time now. I know a good majority of the hymns that are in The Baptist Hymnal, and I love them. I also listen to current Christian radio stations, like K-LOVE and our local station, WBHY-FM (Power 88). They play current Contemporary Christian music, along with current worship tracks from Christian artists who tend to keep worship music as their forte.

I am a music lover. A REAL music lover. Even though I do tend to prefer certain genres or styles and artists, I can appreciate music in all forms. I know enough about music history to know that what we listen to now would not be possible if it weren’t for pioneers in the music industry in the past. A good example would be someone who loves current rock music, but doesn’t take the time to give credit to the king of rock and roll, Elvis. You might not like Elvis’ style and his songs, but you could at least appreciate what he contributed to the development of rock and roll as we know it today.

In regards to church music, I love current worship and contemporary Christian songs, but I appreciate the older, more traditional songs and hymns because of how they influenced the music that is played today. I, for one, do happen to love many of the older songs because the message they promote is just as relevant now as it was then. I think too many younger people dismiss them because they can’t see that. It’s like they can’t seem to make the connection between current life and past songs.

It works the other way as well though. There are many older people who ONLY like older, traditional songs and say they “can’t stand” the music that is out today. They complain about the music being too loud at church or make statements insinuating that the church is trying to become a “rock band.”

In the first scene, the younger people aren’t willing to open their minds to the possibility that the message could be the same as the one they’d hear in a current song, and they don’t like the music or how the song is played. In the second scene, the older people aren’t willing to open their minds to the possibility that the message could be the same as the one they’d hear in an older song, and they don’t like the music or how the song is played. It is literally the same problem, and the basis of the problem is unwillingness to change the mindset.

Look, I would be remiss if I didn’t say how much I absolutely HATE change. I am a creature of habit and routine. Once I get things in a way I like them, I don’t want to deviate from that. It spills over into the way I teach my kids and the way I carry myself at church. I understand and appreciate traditions. I really do. But music, well, it’s one of those things that ALWAYS changes. People who make music and use music every day realize that you can’t tie it down to one particular way all the time. If you are trying to use it to reach people for good, you have to be willing to adapt your methods.

What is the goal of church music? In my mind, the goal of church music is to sing worship and praise to God, so He can sing through us to reach others for HIS GLORY. That’s it, in a nutshell. It can be used to reach one specific person who may be going through exactly what the song is about, or it can be used to unite an entire congregation in a beautiful chorus of worship, praising the One who brought us all together. When we fuss and fight about the kind of music being played in our churches, we are letting the devil get a foothold on something needs to be all about God.

Church music is about God and it’s about reaching people FOR God. Period. This is what needs to be driven home here. It does NOT matter whether you are someone who prefers traditional or someone who prefers current/contemporary. What matters is whether or not God can use it. And guess what? God can use ANYTHING. God can take whatever we give Him, be it old or new, and use it to further His Kingdom and show the world His glory.

I am blessed to attend a wonderful church where we try to incorporate both traditional music and contemporary music. Sometimes, it’s more one than the other, but that’s okay by me. If there happens to be a part where I may not like a certain song (which, let’s face it, RARELY happens), I just sing along anyway, and I do my best NOT to complain about it to anyone. The fact of the matter is that just because I don’t like the song, doesn’t mean that God didn’t use it to reach someone. I am not God. I don’t know how He will choose to speak to someone. Who am I to hinder someone’s experience just because I don’t like the music?

I look at it this way: I am called to spread the Gospel. I try to do it to the best of my abilities. There may be some situations where I don’t particularly like the way it seems God wants me to do it. But it’s not up to me. God equips us with what we need on a daily basis. In regards to music, we may not always like the kind of music our churches play. But we have to remember that God is using it. He can and will and does use it to send His message further than we could imagine. We don’t need to let our personal preferences get in the way of growing God’s Kingdom. It’s only about God. It always has been, and always will be, all about God.

Sometimes I wonder…

…why I even bother with blogging.

Seriously. I am someone who has lots of opinions about lots of different things, but I never come on here to put them out there. I guess it’s probably because I know that whatever I think or say about something is not likely to have any kind of real impact on anything, so I’ll stick to impacting my small non-internet circle of friends and family. My main reason for even having a blog was so that I could update said friends and family with anything new in our lives.

All that said, let’s get on with the updates…

Last update ended with the birth of our sweet John, and life hasn’t been TOO eventful since then. Dylan turned 12 this past summer and we FINALLY got to have his Harry Potter party. To be completely honest, it was as much my party as it was his. I’ve been invested in the series since 2001, which was before Dylan was born, so I was super excited to get it going. It didn’t turn out exactly the way I had hoped, but it was also the first party I’d planned since having John, and he was still nursing so I had to work around his schedule. We had Bertie Bott’s every flavour beans, chocolate frogs, pepper imps, acid pops, Butterbeer, Elf made wine, pumpkin pasties, treacle tarts, deathly hallows cookies, a potions table, and a snitch cake! Truthfully, if anyone would have been willing to dress up, I would have LOVED it. The only food that didn’t go over well was treacle tart. But that was a-okay. The rest was great. The best part about the party was that Dylan loved it.

We had his party in July, so it wasn’t too long before we had to get everyone ready for school to start. Dylan went into the 7th grade this year and Bella started Kindergarten. The night before school started, she got a little nervous. She was really worried that people wouldn’t like her. I don’t know if you’ve met her or not, but you can’t NOT like her. She is such a people person, just like her daddy! It was an unfounded fear, of course, and she is friends with everyone in her class.

Eowyn turned 3 in the fall and we just had a family party. I had thought about doing a princess themed party because she loves princesses, but decided it would just be best to do family only. We had a few friends come over a week or so later and they played and had fun.

I moved both the girls to a dance studio over here, so I don’t have to make that drive on Mondays anymore. With Bella starting school, I knew that the only time we’d be able to get them in classes would be after school, and I didn’t want to have to deal with that in addition to making dinner plans. They love, love, love their dance classes, and I love, love, love this studio. I am super happy that I picked this place instead of the other ones. It is just the perfect fit for us.

We are still very active in church, and we still make that drive back over twice on Sundays and once on Wednesdays. It may seem like a lot, but to me it makes sense. For me, church is not just a building. It’s not just a place I go to worship God. Yes, it is those things, but it’s the people who make the difference. I know there are some who can go to any church and not have any problems just jumping right in. Well, if you know me, you know how impossible that is. It takes time for me to feel comfortable enough to do that. We’ve been going to this church for almost 4 years now. I became a member shortly after Eowyn was born and Jack just became a member over the summer. We just feel like we “fit” there. Church is a family and it takes time to really feel like you are a part of that kind of family, so we’ve never desired to move our church attendance to one over here in our new area. The benefits that we get from being part of this family far outweigh the drive back and forth.

I became Children’s Choir director this year, so that’s been an adjustment. I love it so much, but it has been hard for me to juggle this, plus adult choir responsibilities, Sunday School class, and a nursing baby! I’m making it work, but it’s not easy!

Speaking of nursing babies, I am really pretty surprised that John is still nursing exclusively at 10.5 months of age! I set out with the plan to nurse him as long as he wanted to nurse and if he went a whole year, great. I can honestly say that I really didn’t expect him to go a whole year, but it’s shaping up to do just that! He does eat some baby food and some real food when I cook, and he does usually eat 2-3 times a day on that stuff, but he still very much loves to nurse. I do want to do the whole baby-led weaning thing, but I am personally ready for him to be done. I have no problems with continuing until he’s a year old, that way I don’t have to worry with supplemental formula or anything, but I do hope he’ll be more inclined to wean by then. My MIL has offered to baby sit (and does really want to do so) the kids for us on many occasions since John’s been born, but with him nursing and absolutely refusing pacifiers and bottles, it’s been a no-go. I got a brand new Medela pump after he was born and have only used it a couple of times.

Bella had her 6th birthday party in January and if you are aware of any of the trending Disney items, you’ll know that she most definitely wanted a Frozen party. Well, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you must be living under a rock… or you could be my husband. I honestly can’t believe that he hasn’t seen it just by being in the same house as our daughters! Anyway, it is a SUPER cute and funny movie and has completely taken over the Disney realm. I honestly don’t think they were expecting it to be as big of a hit as it has been. So the party was really fun to bring together. I’ll post pictures another time, but we had sandwiches (we finish each other’s sandwiches!), frozen hearts, Olaf noses and arms, frost bites, glacier juice, melted snow, and some random candies, all finished off with a frozen cake that had ice coming out of it. It was definitely my most favorite cake to have made! She had a blast at the party with her friends and it was a super fun day.

Backing up a little… In December, Jack got some unsettling news that his company was going to be terminating his position at the end of that month and he would be getting laid off. They were going through some restructuring and didn’t have the money to keep his particular position open. That was a hard pill to swallow. In all honesty, they were not ugly about anything and, in fact, were more than willing to do what they could to help him find a new job and even kept him on officially until the beginning of January so that we would be able to keep insurance for another month. That was way more than other companies would do. So, we were disappointed in it, but we had to just do what we could. Since the official termination date, Jack has been constantly putting himself out there to find new employment. God has been faithful to take care of our needs the whole time. Yesterday (March 1), Jack left to head to training in his new job that he starts today. We are ever so thankful to God and to everyone who lifted us up in prayer during this time. This new job will be a transition. I believe that he will be successful, but it will be a bit different from his previous employers so there will be a learning curve. Please continue to pray for him as he makes this transition and for us as we prepare for some weeks without him while he is training.

We haven’t had too many other changes or upheavals lately. John will be a year old in April and I am having a hard time believing that. I know that it’s been that long, but it just doesn’t seem like it’s been that long already. Dylan started taking Tae Kwon Do classes last week and to no one’s surprise, he loves them. I really wish we’d gotten him in one earlier. It’s right up his alley!

One last thing before I close the updating… I would be ever so grateful if you all could keep us in your prayers for some changes we are thinking of making with Dylan and Bella’s school next year. It will require us all to keep a better schedule, which is not a bad thing, but the change could be difficult to get used to for a while. I am hopeful that we’ll see the results that we want though, and that will make it worth any hardship.

Maybe also pray that I get better about updating on here. Lord knows I could stand to be better organized with all of this!


Our newest bundle of joy – John C. Donovan, IV (Birth story to follow, so skip this if you don’t like reading this kind of thing)!






Well, this little booger decided he wanted to stay incubated as long as possible! I was due on April 1. I was hoping that I could avoid having him on that particular day anyway, but I’d thought maybe he’d come early or maybe only be a day or so late. Not the case this time around. My doctor wouldn’t let me go past 41 weeks, so I scheduled an induction to begin on the night of April 8. I really do wish I’d not had to do that, but it is what it is. My mom came down to stay with the kiddos while the hubs and I drove over to the hospital to start the induction. I’ve had Pitocin as a supplement to labor before, but I’d never actually been induced, so this was a new thing for me. We got to the hospital around 10:30 pm and after getting settled in the room and finishing paperwork, I got my first dose of Cytotec a little after midnight. I really wish I’d taken a good, long nap that day because I didn’t realize I’d get NO sleep. The first dose wasn’t too bad. I did have contractions, but they were bearable. I think I was around 1 cm when I went to the hospital, but had no other progress like effacement or anything. [[Sidenote: That was pretty discouraging because I’d been drinking red raspberry leaf tea and taking evening primrose oil and doing other things that would aid in cervical changes for a number of weeks prior to he induction date. I guess I won’t worry with those things if we decide to have another, because they didn’t help with anything.]] By the time they came to give me the 2nd dose of Cytotec, I’d progressed to 2-3 cm and had thinned out a bit and baby had dropped some. I got moved into an LDRP shortly after 7 the next morning (Apr. 9) and when my doctor came to check me, I was about 4 cm and had thinned some more. They broke my water (another weird thing for me since my water broke on its own for my first 3 kids) and it had a green tinge from meconium. That proved he’d been in there too long. Most babies don’t have a bowel movement until after they are born. If they have one in utero, it usually means that they are overdue and should really have already been born. So, they had to be prepared to suction him out really good. After they broke my water, they started the Pitocin drip. I asked for the epidural because Pitocin is no joke. I know some people don’t get affected as much, but it makes me sick feeling. I got the epi around 9-10 in the morning. I was 5-6 cm when they checked me at 11. They checked me again before noon and I was 10 cm and ready to get going. They had me do some practice pushes before the doctor got there. When she got all ready to go and it was time, it only took 2 real pushes and he came right on out. He weighed 7 lbs 15 oz and was 21.5 inches long. I was surprised that he didn’t weigh more since he was a whole 8 days late. I was able to do some skin to skin with him right after he was born and I can guaranteed that it is why he is such a good nurser. He’s been the best of them so far. There are days when he nurses a lot or sometimes gets distracted easily, but he eats like clockwork, every 2-3 hours. Occasionally, he’ll go a little longer, but that’s his normal routine right now. He turned 2 months old last week and goes for his 2 month check up tomorrow. It’s been a joy to have him here and I am, once again, amazed at how quickly the time has flown by.

Anyway, that’s the baby update!

So, this is supposed to be my blog, right?

Thankfully, I don’t have tons of readers here, or I would feel even worse about this whole blogging thing. I cannot believe it has been almost an entire YEAR since I posted anything. Well, I can kind of believe it. It’s been a busy 10 months. To be honest, I don’t think I’m going to sit and go through the old posts to see where I left off. I can say with 99.9% certainty that all the stuff that we’ve been up to has definitely not been mentioned on here yet! That being said, this is going to be a super long post. There’s a lot to cover and it all intertwines, so I’m going to do my best to separate each thing. Just know that most every part of the topics overlap in terms of chronological order. I don’t really feel like making multiple entries, so if you’re game, then just roll with it!

I do remember briefly talking about how we were looking to put our house back on the market. Back in 2012, we put it on the market for about 3-4 months, but never had any interest. We took it off because the holidays were approaching and I knew I didn’t want to deal with showings during that time. We did a little sprucing up to the yard and got a new real estate agent and put it back on the market in May 2013, probably not too long after the last post I made. We had no open houses, but we had about 5-6 showings over the course of 3 months. We got an offer in August that we countered, then they countered our counter and we accepted. Now, don’t go thinking that we closed that quickly though. No no no no no…. It was a nightmare. We sent off everything where we agreed to all of the stuff in mid-September of last year. The guy buying our house was going with a USDA loan because he didn’t have to put any money down on it and our house was in an area that qualified for that kind of loan. The government decided it would stop working in October for almost 3 weeks, so we knew we would get set back with that, only to find out that they had not even sent our stuff off like they were supposed to have sent it. It was supposed to already be sitting up there for them to start working on when they started working again, but no. Apparently his agents didn’t feel like they needed to do their job the correct way and so we had even longer to wait. On the DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING, we get a call from our agent who says that the government has approved the loan and that the guy wanted to close in two days. Yes, that’s right. TWO DAYS. We had fortunately been working on getting things packed up and moved, but since we had been at a stand still with waiting on the government, we couldn’t move all the stuff we wanted to move because we still needed it. I am still pretty irritated about all of this too. I just cannot believe that someone could be so completely inconsiderate. I mean, we are a family and it takes a lot to get us moved. There is absolutely NO WAY I would have ever done that to someone. Like, EVER. I just cannot fathom putting another person (or family) out in that manner. But, as we all know, there aren’t very many people in the world who work like I do. We had planned on enlisting all this help to get things loaded and stuff, but since it happened so suddenly and on not just Thanksgiving weekend, but Iron Bowl weekend, we ended up with very few of the people that we had asked to help. I am EXTREMELY grateful to all of those who did help. In a big way. But I can’t even begin to describe the stress that it put us through. It was unbelievable. We ended up getting everything out and being done by the Monday after Thanksgiving (we had to be out by 5 pm, and we were done by 10 am). We weren’t closing on our new house until Wednesday and Dylan was still in school, so we had to stay in a hotel for the week.

Backing up a bit, but still house related stuff – we looked and looked and looked to find a house that we felt was the right size and price for us in Mobile County. Dylan was in a really good school over there and since we are so active in our church, I just couldn’t see living more than 20 minutes or so from there. So, we searched and searched and just never found what we were looking for. {Sidenote: After checking house prices in different areas of Alabama, I have decided that Mobile and Baldwin Counties are WAY overpriced for the value. The kind of money that some of the smaller houses were listed for in Mobile would buy you a 2-story, 3000 sq ft house in another part of Alabama.} We finally found a home in Baldwin County that my MIL had been working on. She is a real estate agent in BC and part of what she does is flip houses. She asked us to come look at it to see if we felt like it would meet our needs. We liked it for sure, but the biggest turn off (for me anyways) was the fact that it was across the bay in Spanish Fort. I have never wanted to live in Baldwin County. I have been told over and over how great the schools are, and that would convince most people with kids, but not me. I know what it takes to make the school thing work, no matter where you are, so I knew that was a moot point. For me, it’s more about how we’d fit in with the community, and by we, I mean me and Dylan. If you’ve never met me, or if you’ve only known me for a short time, then you may be surprised to know that I am EXTREMELY introverted. I don’t mind being around people I know and hanging out with friends and stuff, but I don’t do new scenarios very well. I don’t have that ease of transition thing going. Not surprisingly, Dylan has inherited some of that from me. People may feel like we come off as uncaring or standoffish, but it’s just that we don’t perceive things the same way others do. Dylan has a lot of my characteristics when it comes to school, but because he is a boy, it does present itself a little differently. Regardless of this, I was and still am more concerned that my children and family will not “fit in” or be “accepted” because of my particular quirks. Anyways, because we never found a house in Mobile County and because we really knew that the area was better and the school system had a better reputation, we made the executive decision to buy the house that MIL was fixing. We did get to close on the house the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, but because Dylan was still in school in Mobile, we had to wait until Friday to leave the hotel. I registered him in the Spanish Fort school system and he started there the next Monday. As of today, we have been in the house for almost 3 full months, as we were finally able to live in it on December 6. Here are a few pics (one of each main room) of before we got all moved in. We are pretty settled in now. Not living out of boxes much, except for a few things that we don’t really need right now anyway, so they’re still packed away. (P.S. If anyone has any tips on decorating a mantle, I’m all ears! Our TV is in an entertainment center, so nothing is over the fireplace and I have no idea what to do there!)

Laundry Room

Laundry Room

Formal living and dining

Formal living and dining





Nursery/guest BR

Nursery/guest BR

Girls room

Girls room

Dylan's Room

Dylan’s Room

Master BR

Master BR

Family/Kitchen/Breakfast room

Family/Kitchen/Breakfast room

breakfast area

breakfast area

Kitchen area

Kitchen area

Okay, that takes care of the house stuff. Now on to more fun things. . .  In June, Dylan got to go to Disney World for the first time. His elementary school had been a part of this YES Program for a while. They only offer it to their 3rd-5th graders, but each student who maintains an “A” average on their EQTs (end of quarter tests) for the ENTIRE year of school is eligible to go on this trip to Disney. The only thing the parent has to pay is a $25 deposit for them and then send them with any spending money they might want. Dylan had been eligible for the trip every year he was old enough to go, but you know good and well that I was not about to send my baby on a trip 8-9 hours away without someone I trusted 100% to look after him. So, it worked out this year that I could go with him. I had to pay for my ticket, but since it was through their program, it was much cheaper than a regular ticket. I also had to buy my own hotel room, but that wasn’t a problem either. So, at the beginning of June, we packed up and headed South. Hubs was having to work that week, so the girls split their time between my parents and his parents. I’m not going to go further into detail about it, but it was a really fun trip and I’d love to take the whole family back one day. Here are some pics from that trip.

Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Simba at the Lion King Performance

Simba at the Lion King Performance

Epcot Center

Epcot Center

Coming in on the ferry to the Magic Kingdom

Coming in on the ferry to the Magic Kingdom

Cinderella's Castle

Cinderella’s Castle


POTC ride

POTC ride

Castle at night, before we left

Castle at night, before we left

The next big thing that happened in June is that Dylan turned 11! I know that’s kind of an unusual number to get excited about, but to my fellow HP fans, you know EXACTLY what it meant. His Hogwarts Letter came! I REALLY REALLY wanted to do a Harry Potter birthday for him then, but with all the stuff we had going on, it just wasn’t going to happen. I certainly plan to do one this year though!

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We had another big thing happen in June, but we didn’t find out about it until the end of July. When I say surprise, I mean it. It was completely not planned, but we were thrilled, nonetheless. We found out that we were adding another member to the family! Official due date is April 1, 2014, so we’ve got about 4 weeks left for this one. And, we are evening the odds this time around with a boy! It has been a rollercoaster ride, for sure. The pregnancy has been unremarkable in that I haven’t had any issues or complications. We’ve just had so much going on that the stress levels have been pretty high. With all the house stuff that has held us all up and then holidays and birthdays, it’s a wonder that I even have anything ready yet. But, we’re getting there.

Let’s see, I think that gets us through the summer pretty much. Dylan started 6th grade this year at one of the best schools in Mobile County, but since we moved, we had to take him out and put him in school over here. It has been an adjustment for all of us. It’s a good school, but they aren’t quite as structured as his previous one and that is making a big impact right now. With Dylan’s ADHD, he really NEEDS that structure to help him develop the kind of school and study habits that will help him as he gets older. It’s a constant thing to stay on top of right now, but I am hoping that we’ll really get to meet and greet everyone next year. I normally like to make an appearance and talk to his teachers, but I just haven’t had the time since the move, and I probably won’t get the time this year. I hope to remedy that when he starts 7th grade.

Bella started taking dance class in August. I don’t have any pictures yet (besides a few on my phone), but her recital will be in June, so I’ll have some then. She loves it and Eowyn loves it too. Eowyn isn’t taking it yet, but she loves watching Bella and copying everything she does!

Speaking of Eowyn, she turned 2 in October, amid all the house mess. She has been crazy about Minnie Mouse for months now. It’s starting to let up a little, but that was her party theme. We just had family over, of course, but it was a good time. Since her birthday falls at the end of October, Halloween is right afterwards. They had the Trunk or Treat at church again, so that’s what we did for the kids. We also took them down to Bellingrath Gardens for their Balloon Glow Halloween thing, but definitely don’t recommend it unless you can get there right when it starts. We got there at 6ish and there were hardly any booths up anymore because people ran out of candy and stuff and just left. Eowyn was Minnie Mouse (of course!), Bella was Rapunzel, and Dylan was Harry Potter (and a dang good one, too!).

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Let’s see. . . I don’t have anything big for Thanksgiving because, well, we were pretty stressed at that time (see above about house stuff). We had a good one, even though it was super stressful. Christmas was the next big holiday for us and we spent it in the new house. I took Christmas pics of the kids at my parents’ house earlier in November because I wasn’t sure when or if we’d get to even have a tree this time, due to all the craziness going on. I ended up slaving away to get everything as normal as possible because Christmas is such a big deal for me. I love that time of year so much, and I had really been struggling with the fact that I might not get to do it all the way I wanted to do it. So, I busted my tail to get stuff done. I’m throwing in a pic of my and my brothers too because it’s a really good one 🙂

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That’s pretty much the last thing for 2013. Jumping right into 2014, and the first big thing that happened was Bella’s 5th birthday. She is really into Doc McStuffins, so that was our theme this year. Since she’s getting old enough to have real friends, we had a few of her friends from church over during the time period between morning and evening service on Sunday. One of her cousins from down the road came over as well. She had a blast, for sure!

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And now I think we’re finally caught up. The biggest thing that has happened in the timeline lately is Joe (Hubs’ youngest bro) got married over Valentine’s weekend and Bella was one of the flower girls. I didn’t take my camera with me, so the only pictures I got were on my phone. I hope that I’ll be able to see some of the ones the photographer took and maybe get a couple since I know Bella was in them. It was a good weekend in the Destin, FL area. Everything was set up nicely and I think everyone had a great time.

At this point, we’re all just in that final stretch of waiting on baby. I’m doing more prep this time around. I started drinking Red Raspberry Leaf tea when I was around 30 weeks. I started taking Alfalfa supplements at around 34 weeks. And, just yesterday, I started taking Evening Primrose Oil. None of these by themselves (or combined) are labor inducers or anything. The tea is specifically supposed to help tone the uterus, so that the contractions are more effective when they start. I was really interested in starting this one because in all 3 of my pregnancies, my water always broke very early on, and my contractions never really got going in a good rhythm. I am hoping that this helps get things going correctly, which will hopefully make the need for pitocin nonexistent. The Alfalfa supplements are to help build up my Vitamin K storage, which will be a big help when the baby is born and will be a help for him, since we’ll be having him circumcised. I took the EPO last time, but only one dose because I didn’t get it until the day of my due date. I know I hadn’t taken enough of it to be sure it was beneficial. It’s purpose is to help soften and ripen the cervix, so that it will be more ready to open and thin out when I am having contractions. I’m currently just taking one pill at night, but will up it to two pills next week. I am really hoping that I can help my body prepare to do this naturally, and not need any medical interventions like epidurals or pitocin.

Anyways, that’s about all for the Donovan Family so far. I may or may not have missed a big update, but at this time of the night, I can’t tell that for sure. I just wanted to catch everyone up on what had been going on for the last 10 months. If you’ve stuck around to read this WHOLE thing, then you are a really patient person! I am going to call it a night and get in the bed. Good sleep comes few and far between at this stage of the game, so good night, good night!

Soul-searching Saturday

Well, I had started doing this “Totes Real Tuesdays” with a friend who had put a link up on her blog, but completely forgot about it this week. I was glad to read today that she had too much going on to really get to hers as well. Made me feel a little better about missing it! 😄 Anyways, I found myself in a heated discussion on facebook today. I don’t really see how we can call it that when I never actually spoke to the person, but whatevs. I’m a little embarrassed to say it started with a link that my preacher had posted. It was about ADHD and how the so-called “scientific father of ADHD” had, on his deathbed, made a statement that indicated ADHD was a fictitious illness. The article itself was a little questionable, in my opinion, but that wasn’t what got my blood boiling. Nope, that was actually done when I read a comment that was made by a friend of his. And, it wasn’t even some awful comment. It was, however, obvious that this person had no real experience with the disorder. Well, for those of you who have known me for a long time, you won’t be surprised when I say that I was pretty unforgiving in my rebuttal of his statements. If you haven’t known me for a long time, well, I hope I haven’t marred your opinion of me by saying that. I am very opinionated and very much an independent thinker. I also have a hard time letting something go when I know i am right about it. It’s a character flaw that I’ve apparently passed on to my son. It doesn’t really matter what the debate was about or who “won” it, but it was another opportunity, that I passed up, to be the bigger person and show love. There are those who would say that my stubbornness isn’t really a big deal and that I shouldn’t concern myself with trying to change that part of me. They’re a little bit right. I mean, it isn’t really THAT big of a deal, in the grand scheme of things, that I tend to be hard-headed when it comes to what I know to be true and correct. But in this scenario, it would have done me more good to have been less opinionated and more compassionate. See, I know that God desires me to have love for my fellow man and to help lead them to Him. It struck me in a big way that I definitely was NOT a good example of Christ’s love when I made those remarks today. I may have been right, but that didn’t give me free reign to be sharp and rude in my responses. I didn’t say anything ugly or call anyone names or anything, but my tone was pretty clear. It wasn’t long after that when I saw another friend’s post that brought me back down. She wasn’t speaking directly about me and she wasn’t even aware of the exchange that had taken place, but God used her post to remind me that I should be striving for His greatness and not my own personal justification. Like the Hawk Nelson song, “Words” says: Words can build us up. Words can break us down. Start a fire in our hearts or put it out. Let my words be life. Let my words be truth. I don’t wanna say a word, unless it points the world back to You. I have always been someone who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. I do try NOT to be rude, but always had the mindset that as long as I was telling the truth about something, it didn’t matter how I said it. Logically, I knew that was untrue, but it didn’t stop me from living like that. I need to be mire careful about the way I use my words. How can I expect to teach my children how to speak and act with God’s love if I don’t practice it myself? So, with all that said, I do apologize to both my preacher and his friend for that show of behavior. I can’t promise that it won’t happen again because, after all, I am a sinful human, but I can promise that I will be making more of an effort to get it right.

Oh, and btw, this is the first ever post that I’ve made with my phone! I’m pretty stoked about that!

Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. I’d like to take a few minutes and just say a public “thank you” to all the moms of the world. This job is hard. Much harder than they let on, but the rewards are the best kind. It’s important that we also remember to thank the other influential women in our lives. While this day is technically about mothers, there tend to be a great many more women who play big roles in the lives of children, regardless of whether or not they are mothers.

I’m going to take some time here and give my biggest “thank you” to my mom. She may not be perfect, but she is the perfect mom for me.

Mom, I know you know that I love you, but I hope you know that any card that I give you for Mother’s Day can never fully convey the love and appreciation that I have for you. I know that I was probably not exactly the little girl that you had envisioned me to be when I was growing up. You were hoping I’d be the little girl who loved tea parties and baby dolls and other little girlie things, but I ended up being the one who hated party hats and dresses and pretty much doing any girlie thing that you ever wanted to try. I believe that your reward for dealing with that has come to you in the form of Bella, who loves every single girlie thing that I couldn’t stand when I was little! I know I was not a perfect child and I’m pretty sure that my stubborn attitude caused you a lot more grief than you let on. Rest assured, I’m probably going to pay for that one too. 🙂 haha… Even though I tended to be on the ornery side, you never stopped being the mom that cared. Through the things that I remember about my childhood, I can always look back and see that you were always there doing what you did to make sure I was taken care of and that I was being brought up in God’s ways. You always made sure that I knew what was right and what was wrong, even though I may not have always followed that path. And, when I faced a consequence that was life-changing, you were still there. I knew I had messed up, but I also knew that you still loved me and you would still be there to help me. I knew that my life would forever be different from what I had *thought* my plan was going to be, but I also knew that as long as I had your support, I would be able to get through it. Now that I’ve been “through it,” I realize how big of a sacrifice it was. That’s another thing that’s always been a point of appreciation for me, your willingness to drop what your are doing and be there for us when there is any real need. I know that it’s not an easy thing to do, but you do it anyway. There is no way I’d be able to list everything that you do or have done that cemented your status as “best mom ever” in my book, so I’ll just leave it at this:

Thank you for being the mom that was always annoyingly on my case about everything. I may not have liked it, but now that Dylan is getting older, I TOTALLY understand why you did it.

Thank you for always being the mom that always wanted to know how our day was.

Thank you for not being one of those “I told you so” moms.

Thank you for your emphasis on our education.

Thank you for always being vocal about your faith.

Thank you for being a special needs mom. Having lived with that for all of my life, I can say that I would fully love and cherish any life that God chooses to bless us with. You have been the mom that has fully embraced the “Welcome to Holland” lifestyle and I’ve learned so much from watching your example.

Thank you for being the support that I needed during the trying times before Dylan was born.

Thank you for being a loving and fun grandmother to my kids.

Thank you, thank you, and thank you a thousand times over, for never giving up on me and for always praying for me. I know I’ve made many, many mistakes in my life and my walk with God, but I can say with certainty that I am as steadfast in my faith and beliefs because of you. You have always tried to lead by example and nurture our beginning Christian relationships and seeing how you have always turned to God in times of joy AND pain and in times of trials has helped me form the strong faith in God that I have today.

I’ve spent a lot of this blog thanking my mom for all of the things she has done for me in my life, but my biggest “thank you” is reserved for God. God was the one who blessed me with such a mother. He knew what He was doing when He chose me for her. She has been the precisely right mother that I have needed in my life. I also want to thank God for the other “mothers” in my life – my Memaw and my Granny (who are wonderful grandmothers to me and great-grandmothers to my children), and my late Aunt Pam (who was the best 2nd mother anyone could ask for!). It’s no wonder I became such a strong-willed, independent person with all of these women looking out for me! 🙂 My last “thank you” to God is for this incredible blessing of Motherhood that He chose to bestow upon me. Though my journey into motherhood did not start the way I had intended, it has certainly worked out better than I could have imagined. I am SO thankful that God chose me to be their mother!